The next stop on our Community Spotlight trip takes us to an 1830’s log cabin on the south side of Kewanee

The two-story Little Cabin, built in the fall of 1837, doesn’t get its name because it’s small, which it is.

Kewanee Preservation Society President Mark Mikenas said, “Records state that 16 people stayed in this cabin, which is about 18 by 20.”

Those settlers are part of the foundation to this community.

And their surname Little is at the base of that historical tree.

Mikenas said, “They were the founders of the community. There were a lot of firsts in their family. First sheriff and everything like that nature. There was a lot of family lore of a lot of different things, the first babies, the first wedding.”

While members of the family still call Kewanee home, one of the Little’s first homes built by Abner Little could have easily disappeared like the rest.

Mikenas said, “Only remaining log cabin here. It was probably the fourth or fifth we can figure out.”

Mark Mikenas said the Kewanee Preservation Society formed in 2014 specify to save the Little Cabin, which had been consumed by the additions to its walls.

The cabin served as a place to help get the family by for the winter as they built their farm. Photos show the cabin dwarfed by what was to come. 

Mikenas said, “This was covered up with another building, so it had to be all stripped off.”

They worked with the surviving descendants through the Little Family Trust who provided funding to make it happen.

The delicate work beginning in 2015

Mikenas said, “It was taken down board by board and put back together, every single one of them.”

After two years of this puzzle, the work finished up in the fall of 2017 salvaging most of the origins and replacing a few pieces.

Mikenas said, “Some of the other structure is out of an 1830, 1840’s barn out of Wisconsin.”

The inside now helps give visitors a look at what life was like and showcases one original piece of how this all got started.

Mikenas said, “The ox yoke that hangs on the wall was an original family that helped bring the family from Wethersfield, Connecticut to what was then Wethersfield, Illinois.”

And these four walls now see how far the Little family has come.

Mikenas said, “Set up the 160 acres, and it’s now double that.”

With two acres set aside for this history.

The Little Cabin will be open Monday, Sept. 3 of Hog Days from 9 a.m. to noon for tours.